Creating a Digital Identity and Presence

My overall goal and purpose for cultivating my digital presence and identity is to adopt a mindful approach in increasing my social network awareness and usage. In this way, I hope to  be an active contributor and mindful of how I am contributing to create an inclusive and engaging environment. Being intentional is a key approach in this process. Knowing that I am cautious to draw attention to my social presence on the web, I want to identify social media tools/platforms which will enable me to actively engage in an environment in which I feel relatively safe.

Jaigris Hodson, in her presentation for the MALAT 2018 Virtual Symposium on “Mindful” social media engagement in an age of Cambridge Analytica, recommends a mindful approach in using platforms and awareness of our digital footprint.  Currently, I am subscribed to two social networking media platforms. One is for professional reasons and the second is personal, however my activity has been dormant on the personal one and with limited activity on the professional network. Before engaging in other platforms, and to thoughtfully increase my activity on the current ones, I would like to increase my familiarity with LinkedIn, and explore using Twitter for educational purposes.

At best, my digital identity has been as a visitor, which as White & LeCornu (2011) point out is more of a user as opposed to an active participant in an online community. This status has enabled me to be cautious about how I engage online and has helped me to avoid managing too many digital identities. However, as I transition my professional practice and identity to a more visible online presence, I am more dependent upon expanding my network and connections globally. This transition necessitates movement along the digital presence continuum to more of a resident status which requires active engagement in a digital space, leaving behind a digital footprint (White & LeCornu, 2011).

To increase my understanding of LinkedIn, Twitter and other related digital social medias and apps, I would like to develop my usage through the application of 5 social media literacies as described by Rheingold (2010): “attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption” (p.16). Actively engaging all 5 components together is the targeted goal in working toward digital fluency (Rheingold, 2010). I want to give myself time to better explore these platforms thinking about the professional presence I create, and how this can be a positive contribution rather than engaging just to create visibility.

Most importantly, to measure success in developing my digital identity and presence on my chosen social network platforms, my frequency in usage will increase. Since I am not a twitter user, measurement of my progress will first start with setting up an account and following RRU SET related posts. Additionally, I would like to post contributions that are meaningful, but this will require building a level of comfort and familiarity with my audience’s interests.

References:

Hodson, J. (April 16, 2018). “Mindful” social media engagement in an age of Cambridge Analytics. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2018.

White, D. S., & LeCornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagementFirst Monday, 16(9).

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literaciesEducause Review45(5), 14.

Mapping your Social Network

Using an automated software such as Socilab.com to map my LinkedIn social network provided some interesting insights. To help analyze my map, I consulted a few sites, one of them was Ryze, which highlights areas to focus on and action steps in improving your network.

My own map shows 3 distinct groups, or “macro-groups” circled in dark ink. The first two groups are more closely related as they are connections from my former workplace in which there was overlap with programs and community relationships. The third group has evolved most recently and is connected through one node (or person) to my former work. The outliers represent opportunities in which I can better develop and identify shared interests to develop my professional network.

Having worked in a very large institution previously, my professional network developed, as a result of my work on committees, institutional events, and working relationships – most of which was face-to-face. Since transitioning to a new but related field of work, I am experiencing a change in my social interactions which have moved to a digital space. Learning how to cultivate these connections online is an area I am curious to learn more about!

A Visitor and Resident: My Map of Technology Use

Based on Dave White’s (2013) explanation of resident and visitor usage of technology on the web, I mapped out my digital presence accordingly. At first glance, the majority of my activity lies within the visitor/personal quadrant that leave a limited “social trace”. I use this space only to go in and get what I need similar to using a tool box as White (2013) frames it in his video. However, my social presence as a resident has been evolving in my professional and institutional life because my community involvement with virtual working groups and organizations has increased. This surprised me as I have been cautious about increasing my social presence online.

WhatsApp has been my preferred social media platform to connect with family and friends allowing me to keep my personal life separate from my professional one. In the working groups where I have taken on a participatory role, I have become more motivated to use social media to stay connected, and engage in. As I am beginning to feel more comfortable increasing my social presence on the web, particularly in developing meaningful connections in this field, I am more likely to experiment with additional social media platforms. In this case, it is the motivation to engage actively with others in a community that it is driving me!

Just the Mapping. (2013, September 13). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/MSK1Iw1XtwQ

MALAT 2018 Virtual Symposium Reflection

Having recently listened in on a diverse range of virtual sessions as part of Royal Road University’s Master of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT), I thought the discussions were stimulating and comprehensive. The discussions covered a wide range of topics from mindful social media engagement, to Rhizomatic learning, and even to culture and design. The discussions invited much reflection for someone new to the field like myself.

A discussion on mindfulness and the use of social media presented by Jaigris Hodson  started the symposium off. With the recent Facebook scandal that saw millions of user data exposed, Hodson (2018) cautions educators to carefully consider how we are using social media in creating learning experiences. As data can reveal very intimate and sensitive information, Hodson (2018) points out that we might be inadvertently exposing learners to experiences which might not be ‘safe’, and which can expose personal data that a learner might not want to be collected. Hodson (2018) calls on educators to become the ‘expert’ of social media tools/technology if advocating their use in the student’s learning experience. This is in an effort to understand the pitfalls of the platforms used, so that alternate options can be provided.

I agree that as educators we need to be mindful of how we require social media for our learners and ensure alternate options. However, ‘being an expert’ in an ever-changing and evolving technological environment will have its limitations as the pace of technological advancement develops faster than humans are able to understand or anticipate (Bridle, 2018). Perhaps in consideration of this limitation, rather than try to be the expert, the aim is to equip learners with tools for cultivating mindfulness.

Carolyn Levy (2018) offers some additional insights on the theme of mindfulness from a cultural perspective. She focuses on the ‘intersection of design and culture’ and integrates elements from her recent international projects developing training for organizations in New Zealand and Vietnam. Levy (2018) highlights the necessity to reflect on our own ‘cultural norms, and assumptions’ and the influence they may exert on the work we do designing virtual learning spaces. One intriguing example that Levy discusses involves the role of ‘collaboration.’ Collaboration may involve different cultural values in a democratic society than in a culture that values hierarchical constructs. If differences in cultural values are not considered, it is easy to impose our own beliefs onto others without regard for possible consequences.

As an interculturalist, I am interested in how to effectively communicate across cultural differences. From this perspective, I would emphasize the need to understand one’s own cultural norms and to consider how those biases may impact working on an international design project in virtual learning space. Since cultural practices are embedded deep within us, Levy’s recommendation to examine our own ‘cultural biases’ is critical and begins with learning about oneself. A starting point to better understand and develop our own intercultural competence can be achieved through one of the many intercultural training assessment tools. A list of these technologies is listed on the website for The Intercultural Communication Institute.

Another session of the symposium that resonated with me was Dave Cormier’s 2017 session on intentional messiness of online communities. I was especially intrigued by the idea of ‘rhizomatic learning.’ As Cormier (2017) describes on his blog, a ‘rhizome,’ also called a ‘creeping rootstalk,‘ is a plant stem that sends out roots and stalks to spread. Accordingly, ‘rhizomatic learning’ emphasizes the idea that as learners we all have different needs based around our own learning contexts. In this way, Cormier (2017) highlights ‘ownership’ of the learning as belonging to the learner who controls the process of learning, creating a personalized learning journey. Admittedly, Cormier (2017) describes this approach as messy, but it is a model that fosters creativity and opens up questions to consider for designing innovative learning experiences.

There are many additional rich topics in the virtual symposium which warrant further discussion and reflection. What is clear from all of them, as Carolyn Levy (2017) so aptly mentions, is that the “notion of industrial education is changing” and will continue to evolve – online learning is helping to change our landscape of learning.


References

Bridle, J. (2018, June 15). Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/15/rise-of-the-machines-has-technology-evolved-beyond-our-control-

Cormier, D. (April 18, 2017). Intentional messiness of online communities. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017.

Hodson, J. (April 16, 2018). “Mindful” social media engagement in an age of Cambridge Analytics. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2018.

Levy, C. (April 20, 2018). Design & culture. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2018.

Veletsianos, G. & Childs, E. (April 20, 2018). Threading the themes together. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2018